Blizzard is shaking up Overwatch 2's release plan so that it can release new stuff sooner. Announced in 2019, the sequel was initially going to launch with revamped PvP and an all-new PvE mode at the same time, but to get new PvP features out sooner, Blizzard has decided to "decouple (opens in new tab)" the two modes and test PvP before PvE.
It's unclear if this means Overwatch 2 will actually release in 2022 in some form, but it does mean players will get to try out Overwatch 2's revamped PvP this year. A closed alpha that includes "Blizzard employees, Overwatch League pros, and a few other select groups'' starts today. Blizzard is also holding an Overwatch 2 PC beta in late April that you can sign up for right now (opens in new tab) on the official Overwatch site.
"This closed beta will include a larger group of testers who we will ask to provide gameplay feedback," reads an announcement blog post shared with PC Gamer. "Our goal for this phase is to test our new features, content, and systems before we shift to stress-testing the servers with a wider player base in future Beta tests."
The April beta, which Blizzard refers to as "Overwatch 2 PvP Beta 1," will include a lot of new stuff for veteran players to test out, much of which we've only previously seen in showcase videos:
- New Damage Hero: Sojourn
- New Game Mode: Push
- 5v5 Multiplayer
- Hero Reworks
- 4 New Maps
This announcement confirms that 5v5 is still the plan for Overwatch 2. This will likely prove to be the largest change coming to PvP, as removing one tank role from each team will drastically change the flow of Overwatch's group-focused combat. The "hero reworks" mentioned above will likely include previously announced tank changes that will make heroes like Reinhardt, Winston, and Orisa more aggressive brawlers.
Blizzard says today's announcement is a "first step" toward increasing its communication with players and establishing a "consistent cadence of updates." As of now, Overwatch players haven't seen a new hero added to the game in two years, but if Blizzard keeps to its 2019 promise, Overwatch 2's new heroes, maps, and modes will also come to the original Overwatch at no additional cost.